hydrohotel.net - a Richard Price webspace

Robin Fulton

This section of hydrohotel.net collects pieces about the poet Robin Fulton. A brief introduction by Richard Price to his work, "Entering a Forest", is set out below with a link to a longer article, "What to do with the word ‘Home’", and finally there is an extensive interview by Iain Galbraith

What to do with the word ‘Home’: absence and elegy in Robin Fulton’s poetry
Robin Fulton interviewed by Iain Galbraith

Entering a Forest: Celebrating Robin Fulton's Poetry

(first published in PS 5, 2008)

This year marks the appearance of Grenzflug (www.rugerup.de), over sixty selected poems by Robin Fulton chosen and translated into German by Margitt Lehbert. The poems are each presented in their original English, too, and so this beautifully produced book also forms a remarkable retrospective for Anglophone readers.

Grenzflug - border crossings, border flittings? The poems do range across various displacements, various migrations, but are as much about the passing of time as the moving across boundaries. Anyone who has gone simply from one district to another in their life can identify with these poems, especially if those districts were the ‘parish of childhood’ and the ‘borough of adults’: Robin Fulton is a brilliant poet of memory. Here are reflections that are in turn puzzled, fond, analytical; beautifully austere. So often they have that Metaphysical catch of the breath that Norman MacCaig had for the visual nature of things but which are here also operating aurally and, especially, on the forces of remembrance: “[…] A radio / sits on a bright table, / an ice-age marvel on display.”

There is something kindly about Fulton’s aesthetic, for all its scrutiny and undeceived reflection. I think of James Schuyler’s recurring motif of the window, a Vermeerish point of reflection perhaps, but for Fulton it is the tree and the forest which tap tap tap at him, inviting a quietly philosophical poetry. I’ve mentioned before how the tone reminds me of Rae Armantrout at times, too. Fulton’s poetry is intellectually restless, searching, yet musical.

Fulton has given the Anglophone world the gifts of his German and Scandinavian translations over the years – and perhaps a celebrity poet or two may have capitalised on the work he and others have laboured over - but in the end, in my view, that is a debate about translations, versions, and ‘borrowings’ that whatever its rights and wrongs has not taken the measure of Fulton’s own considerable poetry. What should not be lost is that Fulton is a wonderful and original poet who is one of the best writing in English today.

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